“We are all going to the World Fair” takes place on the Internet Echo Rooms

Movie theaters are always the best way to see a movie. The darkroom is the perfect place to immerse yourself in movie sound and visuals without any distractions. This would be a good place for Jen Schoenbrunn We all go to the World Fair, the tale of online alienation that debuted at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and appeared in theaters and some streaming services this month. But this release is also the rare case in which I advocate a more intimate viewing experience: at home, perhaps in bed, with your headphones on and playing this standalone horror on your laptop.

why? Because We all go to the World Fair It seems like a strange, ephemeral piece of the internet that one might accidentally discover while browsing late at night. The movie will resonate with anyone who’s gone down a horrific digital rabbit hole and discovered something as light as too many gloomy Wikipedia articles, or deeply disturbing as “creepypasta,” a storytelling subgenre that serves as a popular horror corner on the Web.

We all go to the World Fair They may also have crawled from one of those creepypasta-filled forums, where users exchange eerily plausible fantasy. The movie is about a lonely teenager named Casey (played by Anna Cobb) who decides to conduct the “World’s Fair Challenge,” an amorphous online game that you enter by saying “I want to go to the World Fair” three times in front of the camera and prick your finger to smear some blood on the computer screen. Then you wait to see how your life changes in the following weeks.

Most of the movie takes place via Casey’s laptop, recording updates for her viewers, interacting with other “players”, and depicting supernatural encounters. Once the game is started, the rules are no longer there, or at least not set at all. Each person’s experience is intentionally different. The idea is simply that the mysterious forces behind the World Fair are changing the player in some way. Casey watches videos of the supposed adventures of two other users – one man finding abnormal growths in his arm, and another showing symptoms of acquisition.

The unspoken tension is whether any of the things Casey documents and his views are actually happening. Good online storytelling should invite that kind of skepticism – blunt realism needs at least momentarily to make you wonder if it’s not just a remarkably complex lie. The low budget of the film and the often grainy video quality is part of this realized truth; The trick is one that independent horror has been playing for generations, whether it’s famous fu Documentaries from the 80s like cannibal crematoriumor features of the nineties and most importantly with so-called archival footage like The Blair Witch Project And the supernatural activity.

We all go to the World Fair He doesn’t try to approach those movies in terms of sheer terror intensity. Fears are slower to burn, like a distant shot of someone’s face hanging out in an unnatural smile. While watching this movie, I remembered the hit YouTube series Marble Hornets, a multi-season amateur affair based on the Internet legend “Slenderman”, which extracted horror from shaky camera footage of empty stadiums and damp hotel rooms. Schoenbrunn spoke of being inspired by the horrific Slenderman stabbing in 2014, in which two 12-year-old girls, motivated by fairy tales, attack and nearly kill their girlfriend in the Wisconsin woods; The most disturbing example of how internet infatuation can translate into real-life grudge remains.

But what I found most compelling about the film is that it understands the creativity inherent in any of these social experiences – the unconscious ways in which participants build on each other’s ideas to try to crowd out and frighten each other. As the plot progresses, Casey becomes more and more immersed in videos of other players, and her behavior becomes more and more perverted. Schoenbrunn wants the audience to wonder if there are supernatural forces at work, or just an echo chamber from crawling. In several scenes, Casey interacts with a Superfan of the World’s Fair, JLB, an older man who talks to her using a distorted voice. JLB is expressing growing concern about the directions Casey is going, though he’s still not sure if she’s really losing her mind.

By framing her characters’ creativity with bold grotesque visuals, Schoenbrunn achieves what makes internet horror such a unique setting for cinema. The viewer is disturbed not only by the content, but by his ambiguous relationship with who he is sharing. This parasitic relationship manifests itself in a lot of online interaction, and the vacillating audience attachment to Casey is what keeps We all go to the World Fair Captivate all the way to its hidden end. Are we witnessing a sectarian breakdown or a carefully choreographed show? For the chronically logged-in audience, this is the scariest question Schoenbrunn could ask.

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